Hotel operator Marriott wants to open new net of boutique hotels

Hotel operator Marriott International Inc. plans to open new boutique hotels catering to wealthy travelers with the help of designer and hotel entrepreneur Ian Schrager.

Marriott and Schrager, who developed the concept of smaller, stylish hotels 23 years ago, on Thursday said they plan as many as 100 hotels under the brand, which has yet to be named. Each will range in size from 150 to 200 rooms.

The initial hotels may be built in major U.S. cities like New York, Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Other potential global locations include Paris, London, Tokyo and Beijing.

The partnership with Schrager represents an attempt by Bethesda-based Marriott to enter a fast-growing segment in the hotel industry. Boutique hotels tend to be relatively small, feature stylish and plush designs, and provide more services than a traditional hotel. They also are usually much more expensive.

Chief Executive J.W. Marriott Jr. said the new brand "allows us to use our global platform and ability to create something completely new, different and original - the first truly global branded boutique lifestyle hotel on a large scale."

Schrager co-owned the New York nightclub Studio 54, but later served time in prison for tax evasion. He founded the first boutique hotel, Morgans Hotel, in New York in 1984 with former Studio 54 partner Steve Rubell. The style has since been copied by larger hotel chains, including Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide Inc.'s W hotels.

Marriott, one of the world's largest hotel companies, already operates under brands that include Marriott, Ritz-Carlton and Courtyard.